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On homosexuality: Kinship reviews For the Bible Tells Me So

By Obed Vazquez and Jacqueline Hegarty
Sunday, October 14, 2007, a group of Kinship members from the San
Francisco Bay area joined many of our straight friends at the Lumiere
Theater to attend the San Francisco screening of the new 99-minute
film documentary, For the Bible Tells Me So, produced and
directed by first-time filmmaker, Daniel Karslake.
film follows the journeys of five American families, each of whom
discover that they have a gay or lesbian child. Two of the featured
families were Gephardt family, with Chrissy Gephardt, lesbian
daughter; and Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay
bishop, elected Bishop of New Hampshire in 2004. The other families
were ordinary, Christian, “typical” American families who
faced reconciling the issue of homosexuality with what they had
always believed the Bible said on the subject.

of the five families dealt with the issue differently; yet, they had
a commonality, their literalist understanding of what the Bible says
about homosexuality. The families are all confronted by a big
challenge—the apparent attack on their belief in the Bible as
the written word of God that gives them ultimate truth. But more than
a challenge, it feels like an assault that threatens the very core of
their relationship with their God. For most of the families, their
love for their children and knowing that their children are good,
sincere, and God-fearing, propels them to seek a way of understanding
this “condition.” 
stories of these struggles stir the emotions, reach out to the heart,
and resonate with the familiar. Each story is poignant, from the
story of Mary Lou Wallner, a mother who has to live each day with the
suicide of her daughter because of her own rejection, to the Poteats
who are portrayed as loving and accepting their lesbian daughter but
still resistant towards accepting her “lifestyle.”

is the strength of the documentary, the joining of home and the
altar. Home is where the young homosexual feels the pressures of the
ultimate sacrifice of coming out. Will they be rejected by their
parents as they acknowledge this “truth” about
themselves, and will God side with their parents?  What is their God
really like? The message from both home and church seems clear: we
are an abomination. But are we? 

strength of homosexuality is its ability to bring the committed,
sincere, and honest Christian to face to face with the possibility
that what he or she has been taught is perhaps wrong. That the Bible
they cherish and rely on may not mean quite what they have always
taken for granted. That the God they have come to know may not be the
“right” or only version of God. And this is the other
strength of the film—it validates the sincerity of these
Christian families without attacking them. This film takes the Bible
seriously and wants to reconcile gays and lesbians with the scripture
they love. The film interviews Biblical scholars and ministers who
help explain the context of the Bible’s few verses about
homosexuality. Much of this scholarship is not new to us “out”
LGBTI Christians, but we appreciated how compassionately it is
presented throughout the film.
of the scholars interviewed, Dr. Lawrence Keene of the Disciples of
Christ, talks about how he responds to Biblical literalists who
frequently assert, “This is what the Bible says”
by countering,“…No, that’s what the Bible
reads…”  He challenges fundamentalists to consider the
context, the language, the culture, and the customs that helps us to
understand the meaning of what the Bible is saying. For example, the
Bible does not offer much advice for modern marriage because marriage
as we know it today (between one man and one woman with both parties
considered equal) simply did not exist. Likewise it does not say
anything about committed homosexual relationships today—homosexuality
as we know it today did not exist when the Bible was being written.
producer has chosen not to address the parents that decide to send
their children to conversion camps or reparative therapy programs. It
doesn’t show the emotional and spiritual damage this has caused
many gay and lesbians, denying them a path towards developing a
relationship with the God of their childhood. In fact, the
relationship is impossible because the God they read about condemns
them, and there is no negotiation with “abomination.”

of the film’s highlights that we found especially moving was
the story of Bishop Gene Robinson. His story is at first a story we
have all heard—he follows cultural tradition, marries, and has
children. Then what has been denied within him begins to clash,
putting pressures on his relationship with his wife, his ministry,
and his values. His decision to come out and to continue in his
ministry, however, can not be taken lightly; this is not the easy
path. The courage to continue in the ministry is what makes this such
an incredible story.
film tells the highlights of his nomination to become bishop through
the testimony of members of the nominating committee who were looking
for the best spiritual leader they could find. The fact that he
happened to be gay was not taken lightly but recognized as an
additional quality that he was bringing to the office. Seeing his
consecration at the General Convention with the accompanying
pageantry, pomp and circumstance, and thunderous applause was a
powerful testimony of the dedication of a gay man, a gay minister,
and the faith of a congregation who accepted the impossible: that a
gay man can be a spiritual leader.
highlight for us came towards the end of the story of the Poteat
family. Here we have a couple who are obviously dedicated to their
beliefs, but also dedicated to their children. Their prayer for their
children is answered, but not how they expected. God has a sense of
humor. Their inability to accept the “lifestyle” of their
daughter was admittedly frustrating in many ways. They functioned on
the “love the sinner, but hate the sin” mentality, a
conflicting duality that is painful and an impossible reality.
brings us to the good question of what indeed is the “gay
lifestyle”?  Mel White addresses this by sharing a moment he had
while on Larry King Live. A caller asked what Mel and his partner did
in bed. Even though Larry King hung up on the caller for being rude,
White answered, “What do we do in bed? We’ve been
together for 24 years—we sleep in bed.” Indeed,
many of us lead very boring lives of working long hours, taking care
of children, cooking, cleaning the house, and doing the laundry. We
go to church, sit on boards, lead Sabbath school, and fall exhausted
into our beds at the end of the day to sleep: the “gay
families on their journeys to reconciliation and unconditional love
is powerful; it is the heart of society, and none are excluded. In a
way, the Poteats can be seen as representative of many Americans (at
least, we hope)—they admit to not having settled issues of sex;
they admit they might need to read the Bible again; they admit to not
being able to accept the “lifestyle”; and yet they still
want to love their daughter. They want to see her as a child of God.
There is still pain because they can’t offer her complete
acceptance yet. “We’re not there yet.” But, there
is hope that they will be there soon.
Obed Vazquez is a professor of sociology at Diablo Valley College in
Pleasant Hill, California. He is a partnered Seventh-day Adventist
living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has been a member of SDA
Kinship International since 1978 and serves as a regional coordinator
for SDA Kinship International.

Jacqueline Hegarty is a partnered Seventh-day Adventist lesbian mom living in
the San Francisco Bay Area. She is active in SDA Kinship’s
Region 8 (northern California), serving as editor of the region’s
electronic newsletter, Region 8 News & Views. She also
serves as Public Relations Coordinator for SDA Kinship International

authors would also like to recommend an Adventist-produced video
entitled, “Open Heart, Open Hand,” featuring three
Adventist families and their experiences with their gay/lesbian
children. It shows similar journeys, similar struggles, familiar
pain, and it is our families. (More information about the
video is available from Carrol Grady’s website,

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